American Pie 14.11.02

More problems for Ms magazine. Just three months after her appointment as editor-in-chief of the feminist magazine, with a promise of taking it back to its hard-hitting roots, Tracy Wood, a former investigative reporter for the LA Times, has stepped down without producing a single issue. The magazine’s new owner, the Feminist Majority Foundation, has turned to Anne Mulligan Smith, a former editor of Working Woman and McCall’s, to try to get an issue out early next year. Gloria Steinem, the founder and first editor, is "helping out".

 

Staff at the New York Post are walking tall. The latest ABC figures show it is gaining on its big rival, the Daily News, in the war of the tabloids. The Post’s circulation at the end of September was 500,000 – a 10 per cent jump on 2001. The News was 715,000 – a decline of 2.5 per cent. The fact that the Post halved its price to 25 cents two years ago has helped, but under Col Allen, its new Australian editor, it is snappier, better laid out and its colour printing is of a higher quality than any other city paper. This is because, it’s said, Rupert Murdoch invested more heavily in new colour presses than his rival. But it is also argued the real secret is that the plant’s installers put so many pilings into the ground there is virtually no vibration.Overall the circulation of most big American papers -after the boost created by last year’s terrorist attacks – has again started to decline.Even the circulation of USA Today is down by half a per cent to 2,231,000. The Washington Post, LA Times and Chicago Tribune suffered similar drops. Sunday papers in most cities increased, but only marginally.

It’s boom time again for the paparazzi. After years of being looked down on, the flash-and-snap cameramen are suddenly more in demand than ever. Or at least their pictures are. This is because of the new battle between the celebrity magazines, sparked by the revitalisation of Jann Wenner’s US magazine, the long-established People Magazine and a newcomer called In Touch. The trio have ignited several bidding wars.The first photographed kiss between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, published in People in August, reportedly went for almost $100,000 (£63,000).The fact that the couple were to be seen reading US in another picture in the same package helped up the bidding. It was a photo that People judiciously cropped when it won the contest. A picture of Britney Spears wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Dump Him" across the chest went for $30,000 (£19,000). To avoid being held hostage to the boom, Family Media has started putting some of the more successful paparazzi on staff – or at least under contract.

 

It has always been cheaper to buy magazines here by subscription than on a news-stand. For example, Sports Illustrated costs under $40 (£25) a year compared with $185, the New Yorker is $30 instead of  $164 (£116) and Playboy costs $17 (£10) instead of $162 (£100). But perhaps not for much longer. At a recent magazine publishers’ trade body meeting there was talk of charging readers more. Falls in advertising and readership were partly to blame. Last year, for the first time in decades, the total number of subscribers  fell from 319 million to 305 million. For years, when advertising revenue was high, publishers promoted cheap subscriptions heavily. Many in the publishing industry think it’s time to increase the cost, even at the risk of losing some readers.

 

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